om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah
O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.
Today is Varuthini Ekadasi. Ekadasi is very important. Both Gurudeva and Prabhupada emphasize that one should try and follow Ekadasi to the best of one's capacity. Oftentimes I find myself following Ekadasi in a routine, monotonous sort of way. Today, I was able to be more spiritual as I should on Ekadasi; I decorated the altar and did some other services. It was very sweet!
One reason I found myself in a more serving mood for Ekadasi today is because I sat down and read about this Ekadasi from the Ekadasi book. This book has all the stories behind each Ekadasi in it, as well as the many benefits we get from each specific Ekadasi. Here is a little on what this book, by Krsna Balarama Swami, has to say on Varuthini Ekadasi:
"Whatever merit one obtains by performing austerities and penances for ten thousand years is achieved by a person who observes Varuthini Ekadasi. The merit one achieves by donating a great amount of gold during a solar eclipse at Kurukshetra is gained by one who observes this Ekadasi fast.
Indeed, he who observes this one Ekadasi with love and devotion certainly attains his goals in this life and the next. In short, this Ekadasi is pure and very enlivening and a destroyer of all sins."
Ever heard of Ekadasi bars? I just found out about them. Maybe there is a recipe online? Ekadasi bars
Also, I read yesterday a part of the chapter of Sri Prabandhavali in which Srila Gurudeva comments on Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura's Sri Bhajan-rahasya. I have never read this book, only heard of it in classes, but Gurudeva's harikatha about it makes me want to read it.
He talks of how we are in darkness, and guru lights the lamp. The pictures along with this quote aren't from the book; I put them in myself:
"...the beginning stages of sadhana have been compared to the darkness of night. If you try to walk anywhere in the darkness, you may stumble or step into a ditch or even upon a snae, so there is some fear. Or if you enter a jungle you may be attacked by a tiger or lion. There are also thieves and dacoits to be wary of.
Thieves don't come in the first part of the night because at that time most people have just settled in and can be easily awakened, but they come nearer to morning when most people are in deep sleep. There are also such thieves and fearful adversaries in the beginning stages of bhajana. At this point the stars in the evening sky have not yet disappeared, meaning lust, anger, greed, envy and madness have not disappeared from our hearts.
Our many anarthas, which have been compared to tigers and snakes, are hidden in all directions. But will the practice of sadhana alone make the sun of spiritual perfection rise? When does the sun rise? When the appropriate time comes, and not before. So here one thing is possible: if a lamp is lit in the night, then snakes and other fearful adversaries will flee. It is the guru who lights the lamp for us by giving us Harinama and making us hear harikatha.
Then the anarthas which remain within us will begin to fade, but is that alone enough to make the sun rise? The sun of full realization of the Nama will rise according to its own sweet will; it is fully independent.
atah sri krsna namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhi hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, 1.2.234
'The material sense cannot perceive the name, qualities, form and pastimes of Sri Krsna. Only when one is fully absorbed in serving Him does the real nama appear on one's tongue, bestowing full realization of Him.
Just as the sun rises at precisely the appropriate time, when the time is right the Nama will appear on a devotee's tongue and illuminate everything within his heart. And just as when the sun rises there is no need of any electric light or candle because everything is automatically illuminated, when the nama bestows full realization upon a devotee, he will have a clear understanding of himself in his constitutional position, and all of his fear will vanish.
eka krsna name kare sarva papa nasa
premera karuna bhakti karena prakasa
'Simply chanting Krsna's name without offenses vanquishes all sinful activities, and thus bhakti, which is the cause of prema, becomes manifest.'
CC Adi-lila, 8.26
By its mercy the nama will fully reveal itself, but as long as it hasn't arisen in the heart, we can only endeavor to mae the darkness go away, meaning we must continue executing sadhana in an effort to rid ourselves of our anarthas."
When I read this, that guru lights the lamp for us in darkness...I just felt so joyful. How merciful is guru! How wonderful! I just had to read it again, and then I thought, I should share this. I really enjoy the analogy that we are in darkness, and guru lights the lamp, and by chanting and hearing, we can come out of the darkness.
It is not simple, but what supremely expert, compassionate guides we have in Gurudeva and Prabhupada. They hold our hands, they pick us up when we stumble (unless it helps for us to get up our own selves, which sometimes it does, that can be a lesson), and so many other things. It is hard, but when I read stuff like the above that just says mercy mercy mercy all over it, I feel very happy and encouraged. =)
This post relates to my post, "What is sadhana?" which you can find here:"What is sadhana?"
Next, I will be doing a post on anarthas. We see the word a lot and have a basic idea of what it means, but what does it really mean?